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According to the Department of Higher Education & Training and the Department of Labour, this is the decade of apprenticeships in South Africa. Viva mofos! The ‘Decade of the Artisan’ was launched two years ago in February 2014 and ends in 2024.

Abracadabra!

The idea is excellent, but the delivery is…INVISIBLE.

There is no massive high school campaign including teachers, learners and community; no banners on streets and in taxi ranks, no massive information leaflet distribution. Has the Decade of the Artisan touched you in any way, have you seen it in action? Post a comment below if it has!

Apprenticeships as speed boat to employment

There is a world shortage of artisans. In the UK, house building has slowed due to the shortage of construction skills. A new law ensuring that UK state schools promote apprenticeships as much as university education will be introduced this year in a bid to end the “outdated snobbery” against technical education.

In South Africa, the 2011 consensus indicated that 3.3 million South Africans between the 15 to 24, are not in education, training or employment. They will require skills relevant to the current and future skills-related needs of the economy.

Who cares about cool?

Minister Nzimande indicated that Deputy Minister Manana, as a “young man” will lead the project to convince South African youth that being a 21st Century artisan is “cool”. It was indicated that the goal of the project is to produce 30 000 artisans per annum by 2030 in order to meet its outcome of creating “a skilled and capable workforce to support and inclusive growth path”.

This means that they think that the key challenge to placing people on apprenticeships is that it’s percieved as ‘cool.’ Come on, a campaign that’s pretty invisible is difficult to pitch as cool. I do not believe that the biggest stumbling block to apprenticeships is ‘cool’ but that it’s accessibility.

How do you access an apprenticeship?

There are a range of different training providers but it’s impossible to get a comprehensive list of them from anyone. This means that potential candidates have to source niche opportunities only available in isolated pockets of the country. There appears to be no strategy to capacitate additional, particularly black service providers in rural and peri urban areas.

Potential candidates are shafted from pillar to post with no single entity representing their interests. As long as the campaign fails to make itself visible to masses it will continue to be a national campaign driven off the road.

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